The United States established diplomatic relations with Libya in 1951. In 1969, the army overthrew the king, and coup leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi became de facto head of state. Qadhafi tried to brutally suppress an uprising against his dictatorship in 2011. Under the auspices of a UN Security Council resolution, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France launched military action to protect Libyan civilians. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization continued these efforts as "Operation Unified Protector." Qadhafi was killed during the conflict.
Libya faces the challenges of building democratic institutions, protecting the universal rights of all Libyans, promoting accountable and honest government, rebuilding its economy, and establishing security throughout the country. On September 11-12, 2012, armed extremists attacked the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, killing four U.S, government personnel, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. The United States continues to have a strategic interest in a stable and prosperous Libya, and following the attacks in Benghazi, U.S. officials at the highest levels reaffirmed their support for a peaceful, democratic transition in Libya,in cooperation with the UN and other international partners.